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The Discovery of The Emotional Collective Field: The Family Constellation

Developed by German psychotherapist Bert Hellinger, The Family Constellation is a systematic approach in therapy. We evaluate each individual not as an independent unit but as a part of a bigger whole, i.e., the family system. None of us are unattached, isolated beings. We’re all connected to our family members and ancestors whether we know them or not.

Through The Family Constellation, we discover that we’re directly affected by the society and the culture within which our families raise us. The Family Constellation is an influential method which helps us realize the deadlocks in both our root and current families. These deadlocks prevent individuals from living their lives in the full and easy flow of their potential. Deadlocks may cause a member of the family to unconsciously undertake and relive the destiny of a former family member and to change their behaviour to balance out the actions of the previous members of the family. The subconscious urge to resolve past events may derive from the history of the family and may manifest itself in unresolved traumas in future generations. Both Freud and Carl Jung believed that what remains in the subconscious never perish, but mostly re-emerge in our lives as destiny and fortune. Jung says, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”


Let me tell you about two experiments to satisfy our rational brain. Rachel Yehuda, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience, and her team at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York conducted a research on 32 Jewish men and women who were in concentration camps during World War II, experienced or witnessed torture, or had to hide throughout the course of the war. The same genetic changes have been detected in both those who experienced the genocide and their children who did not witness it. This phenomenon is called epigenetic heritage. The environment you’re in, your diet, and the level of stress in your life can affect the lives of your children, even grandchildren. The genetic traces weren’t observed in the genes of the Jewish people who didn’t live in Europe during World War II. For another research at Emory University in Atlanta, a group of male mice are conditioned to be afraid of the smell of cherry blossom by pairing exposure to the odour with a mild electric shock. After a while, the male mice started trembling as soon as they smelled cherry blossoms. In last phase, these mice mated and had offspring. The new generation of mice, which weren’t exposed to this experiment, were kept in a different cage, and exposed to the scent of cherry blossoms. They had the same reaction as their parents and started shaking with fear. Thus, the research team concluded that the parent on which the experiment was carried out produced sperm containing genes epigenetically labelled against this odour.


We all have a family but, whether we’re aware of it or not, we all carry some unresolved issues about our families. There are certain laws conducting the family system, which influence our behaviour even though we may not be fully aware of it. If one or more member(s) of the family system is unconsciously breaching these existential laws, the suffering is reflected on another family member. The laws manifesting as hidden family dynamics are revealed during The Family Constellation sessions. I’d like to talk briefly about these laws. mechanism of consciousness tells us which values in life should be pursued and which need to be abandoned. We learn about these values from the country we’re born and live in, or from tribes or sects. The main source to nourish us on these values is our family. The provenance of personal conscience takes root in the early stages of childhood. The primary craving of the child is to belong, first to the mother and then to the father. Children love their parents unconditionally because their survival depend on it. Thanks to the deepest and strongest drive of belonging, nature endorses the survival of infants. Since children would die without such a commitment to their mother, they risk everything to be close to the mother. As they grow older, the

attachment urge expands towards people outside the family. Over time, we commit to a bigger community and establish a social identity of our own.


Individual conscience makes us feel guilty when we violate socially acceptable behaviour, forces us to correct our mistakes, demands us to return a favour or a kind gesture, act properly in certain environments, and makes us a part of the social structure. Naturally, conscience may vary according to culture; a frowned upon demeanour in one culture may have a positive connotation in another. We also have a collective conscience which is a stronger, more sinister force. When we act against the collective conscience it does not manifest itself as a sense of guilt; we don’t know where it’s coming from and can’t directly define it. Instead of residing in the mind of the individual and revealing itself through their choices, the collective conscience works across the family as a whole, unrecognised by members of the family.

As practitioners of The Family Constellation, our job is to diagnose collective conscience. By comprehending these laws and bringing them to light, we can understand what it’s trying to show us and make us do; thus, we help amend the imbalance in the family system and help the client accept what has happened. The collective conscience has three principles: • Law of Belonging: Everyone who’s a part of the family has the equal right to belong in that family. • Law of Hierarchy: Family members are ranked based on their entry into the family system. The ones who come before are “superior” to those who come afterwards. • Law of Balance: An injustice experienced by a member in the previous generations or imposed on someone else should be balanced by a later family member.

The Family Constellation session is carried out usually by a group. However, individual sessions are possible when it’s hard to find representatives, in which case we use objects. The person, who wants to have their The Family Constellation revealed, comes together with a group that will represent them and their family members. They tell the instructor about their problems and ask questions. The representatives are placed within the area without any explanation or instructions; the energy field of the family is recreated. This portrait of the family tells us a lot, revealing an informative scene of the degree of intimacy among family members, or of the feelings of love, pain, or distance they have within the family. Thus, each representative gets the chance to understand and gain awareness for the family dynamics through both observation and representation. The representatives are asked to remain in their own centre without any intentions or prejudices, while observing and following their instincts. Although the representatives in the constellation have never met or have no information about the family members, they soon start experiencing the emotions of the family member they embody. This phenomenon has been confirmed many times with the accounts of family members. It is also quite common for a representative to feel/experience a physical discomfort belonging to the family member they act as. Although we still cannot explain how, this situation is so common that it is accepted as is. It seems as the randomly selected people enter this special field of energy where they can access the feelings and perceptions of the person they represent. By entering the energy field of a family system, we can instantly perceive the realities of the relationships within. This phenomenon has been named as “morphogenetic field”, “informative field”, or “field of knowledge” by various experts. According to the theory of morphic fields, nature has a certain type of memory. Scientists describe “morphic field” as the phenomenon in which members of the same species who don’t know each other cognitively create a shared space on a level of consciousness and influence each other despite the difference in time or space.

I’d like to talk about the hundredth monkey experiment. There was a monkey colony living on the island of Koshima in Japan, scientists fed these monkeys by leaving sweet potatoes on the sand. Monkeys loved the sweet potatoes; however, but they were not very happy because they were covered in sand. One day, an eight-month-old female monkey coincidentally dropped her potato in a puddle of water. She discovered that the potato tasted better without the dirt and kept washing her potatoes before eating them. Upon seeing this, her mother and her playmates learned this method and taught it to other monkeys. When the hundredth monkey learned to wash the potato before eating it, monkeys on other islands, and even on mainland Japan, who had no access to or communication with the members of their species started washing their potatoes before eating it. Let’s go back to The Family Constellation session. As the session continues, the representatives change positions relative to each other and find the position in which they feel the most comfortable. They repeat the sentences of healing provided for them. The client has the chance to earn a new perspective about their issue. Everyone who participates in The Family Constellation session becomes more aware of how we carry a part of the collective space in which we are emotionally attached. We come to realize that in order to live a peaceful life, we need to be in balance with ourselves and the vast system we belong to. The scope of The Family Constellation sessions is not limited to family problems. It can also be about relationship problems, the absence of a relationship, having short-term relationships, working for a job you don’t like, financial problems, psychological disorders, illnesses, or harmful behavioural patterns you cannot change. Sessions reveal not only a destructive family dynamic, but also secret healing powers that strive for a healthier relationship among family members. As a result, a new and more natural balance can be restored for the entire system. The Family Constellation enables us to open our hearts to our ancestors who influence our lives without us being aware of it and to send our roots deeper into the force of life that flows towards us through generations.

Resources: Roots of Love, Svagito R. Liebermeister It Didn't Start With You, Mark Wolynn


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